PRETTY MAIDS – Alive At Least

PRETTY MAIDS - Alive At Least


Prema/XIII Bis Records
Release date: April 23, 2003

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Pretty Maids new live album, Alive At Least, offers a fairly strange title. Is it just a play on words, since most bands try to work the word “live” into all their live recordings, or is it them saying “hey, at least we are still out there making music.” If that’s the case, looks like we are going to have to slap them on the back, say, “chin up boys!” and run out there and pick up this CD.

Pretty Maids have been around a long time, and while being more popular in Europe and Japan they have enjoyed sporadic and short-lived success in the U.S., but that’s just bad luck. These guys deserve much greater success, and hopefully it’ll happen. The one bad thing about this CD, though, is that they don’t have one song from Jump the Gun on it. Musically, not sales-wise, Jump the Gun is their best CD. It’s where singer Ronnie Atkins found the middle ground between his smooth, almost sultry lower range and brutal and guttural higher range. Also, Jump the Gun is the CD where their slow songs weren’t SO saccharine and their hard songs didn’t seem forced in any way. They are versatile, but they might suffer because of that same versatility. Look at their biggest hit, “Please Don’t Leave Me.” Fans of that song, hearing them for the first time, probably think they always sound that pop-oriented. But give them “Red Hot and Heavy,” next, and they’ll flinch.

Alive At Least was recorded in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan and Hamburg and Bochum, Germany. They take the stage and blaze through a wicked rendition of “Sin Decade,” and then two newer songs, “Destination Paradise” and “Tortured Spirit.” Atkins sounds like he always does — you don’t think he’ll be able to hit those high notes because he sounds like he just smoked 20 cartons of cigarettes before getting behind the mic, but he always nails everything. He’s a real vocal talent and a professional frontman.

They do mix up their set list fairly well. You’ll get some of their older songs, like “Queen of Dreams,” “Shelly the Maid” and the aforementioned “Red Hot and Heavy.” Those songs have the same verve as they did 20 years ago. All the older songs are heavy, but they have obviously become more polished and precise as musicians, and it shows. It really makes you want to be there live and see them in action. They also have a nice mix of newer material off of Planet Panic, like “Virtual Brutality,” “Playing God” and “Natural High.” And from the laboriously titled Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Overdoing you’ll get “Snakes In Eden,” and “Destination Paradise.” Overall, the set list highlights Pretty Maids harder side, and they do good job representing new and older material … except for Jump The Gun.

The highlight of any Pretty Maids show is “Future World.” Even people who aren’t fans of this the band go nuts when they hear the opening keyboard and razor-like guitar counter each other, and then the song changes to an ethereal piano piece with dream-like vocals, only to be cranked up 20 notches when Atkins belts out, “Where do we go! Where do we go from here!” The crowd is screaming and Atkins does a sing along with the crowd. They are obviously in tune with each other. This song is the most honest representation of Pretty Maids’ hard side and pop side, and it’s their best song. Brilliant stuff.

If you are not a fan of these guys, you should be. The only thing about the band that hasn’t flourished with time is their name, which still makes them sound like an ‘80s hair band. They never were a hair band, and they have grown miles over the years without losing their original sound or sounding dated. Pretty Maids deserves to be one of the most popular bands around, and if you pick up this CD, you’ll hear why.

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